Govt to approach Copernicus over showing Saint Martin’s as Myanmar territory

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 02:50, Oct 26,2020


The government would engage with Copernicus on the allegation of showing Saint Martin’s Island of Bangladesh on a map of Myanmar as its territory, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said on Saturday.

Copernicus is an earth observation programme of the European Union based in Belgium and is mainly focused on global climate change. It also offers free access to satellite data.

There are scopes for engagements as Bangladesh also contributes to the activities of Copernicus, the foreign secretary said.

The Bangladesh authorities have taken steps to verify whether the controversial map was genuinely produced by Copernicus or any other quarter with a dubious goal, foreign ministry officials said, adding that creating confusion by showing Saint Martin’s Island as part of Myanmar was not a new phenomenon.    

In 2018 and 2019, the government protested against deliberately showing Saint Martin’s Island of Bangladesh in Myanmar territory in several maps in at least three websites run by Myanmar.

The Myanmar authorities also shared those maps with several international websites.

However, following the protests, the Myanmar authorities corrected the maps in the websites.

In all the international political maps created in 1937 and afterwards, especially during the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the independence of Myanmar from British rule in 1948 and Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, Saint Martin’s had been shown as an integral part of Bangladesh territory, Bangladesh officials said.

Myanmar had also accepted Bangladesh’s jurisdiction over St Martin’s Island in a bilateral instrument signed between the two countries in 1974, they said.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea also showed Saint Martin’s Island as part of Bangladesh in its maps presented in a verdict settling a dispute on maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2012, the officials said.

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